Sleep More, Feel Better: The Power of a Bedtime Routine

bedtime-routine

Please enjoy hearing advice from someone other than me! I’m pleased to share Holly Althof’s writing in this post about how important having a nightly bedtime routine can be to our overall health. If you’d like to find out more about Holly, you can find her on Instagram @hollyalthof

As mothers, we know that having a bedtime routine is important for our little ones. It calms them and encourages good sleep habits. But what about us, the mothers? Why do we tend to throw routine and self-care out the window the second we embrace the joys of parenthood? 

Because doing it all in a day is hard. Whether we work outside of the home or in the home, every waking moment is spent working our tails off to get items crossed off our bottomless to-do lists. 

But those lists are never going to be 100% completely done. 

Please enjoy hearing advice from someone other than me! I’m pleased to share Holly Althof’s writing in this post about how important having a nightly bedtime routine can be to our overall health. If you’d like to find out more about Holly, you can find her on Instagram @hollyalthof

As mothers, we know that having a bedtime routine is important for our little ones. It calms them and encourages good sleep habits. But what about us, the mothers? Why do we tend to throw routine and self-care out the window the second we embrace the joys of parenthood? 

Because doing it all in a day is hard. Whether we work outside of the home or in the home, every waking moment is spent working our tails off to get items crossed off our bottomless to-do lists. 

But those lists are never going to be 100% completely done. 

The logical parts of our brains know that. Yet it doesn’t stop us from running ourselves ragged to try. We let it affect our sleep routines to the point that many of us aren’t getting more than 5 to 6 hours of sleep per night. Even once we fall asleep, we wake up and anxiously think about what we need to get done the next day or within the next week, think of something we forgot to do, or replay events from the day in our minds. Wherever our thoughts may go in the wee hours of the morning, we struggle to get back to sleep. 


Importance of Sleep

Bedtime routine

Adult women need 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night—we are robbing ourselves of 14 to 21 hours of sleep a week, ladies (raise your hand if your husband is getting those extra hours for you). When we do the math, it’s insane to think of the sleep we’re missing out on! No wonder we are impatient, crabby, and scatterbrained—not to mention guilt-ridden for the times we lose our tempers with our children and spouses. 

We need sleep to keep us healthy. And we need nightly bedtime routines just like our children do. 


Importance of a Nightly Routine

You might be thinking—whoa, whoa, whoa! Maybe you have time for a routine, but I barely have time to shower, so you can take your routine talk and shove it up your ___—well, I hear you. It can be overwhelming to think about doing things to put ourselves first. But we all need a little bit of routine for our mental and physical wellbeing. 

Routines give us more control and intention in our days. They don’t need to be strict or inflexible, because as we all know, life happens and with kids you must be able to fly by the seat of your pants at any given moment. But having a simple plan to follow most nights can be helpful in getting you more sleep, feeling more rested, and ultimately, getting more items crossed off your to-do lists. Dawn Marie’s Mental Edits blog post sums up the importance of routine in your life. If you haven’t read it, find Power of Routine here

Here are 8 simple things to consider incorporating into your bedtime routine to help your mind shut down and get you the rest your body needs. 


1. Prepare for the next morning

Pack your bags, have your kids get their school stuff together, pack lunches, pick out clothes, etc. This doesn’t need to be a drawn-out nightly activity. Just do whatever will alleviate stress for you in the middle of the night and the next morning. 


2. Do a little yoga

Stretch out your body, reconnect with your breath, and empty your mind. A 10 to 15-minute bedtime yoga routine is a good way to show yourself a little love at the end of a long day. If you’re a yoga novice, YouTube offers many options for quick bedtime practices with lots of mindful stretching. Yoga with Adriene has a variety of mellow routines to choose from. This Yoga for Bedtime is one of my favorites that I add to my bedtime routine!

For those who aren’t into yoga, don’t hastily brush this off as not being “your thing”. You might be pleasantly surprised at how relaxed you feel after a quick full-body stretch. The National Sleep Foundation says that people who suffer from insomnia who incorporate yoga into their nightly routine notice a difference in how much sleep they get, how long they stay asleep, and how much quicker they get back to sleep if they do wake up in the night. Yoga focuses on breathing techniques that are useful both on the mat and when trying to fall asleep. 


3. Set the mood 

For sleep, that is. Here are a few ideas to get you in the mood for sleep:

  • Dim the lights for about an hour before you’re ready for bed
  • Spray bedding with a calming scented pillow spray (I recommend Deep Sleep Pillow Spray by thisworks® for a more earthy aroma or Bath & Body Works Aromatherapy Lavender Vanilla Pillow Mist for a milder scent). 
  • Use an oil diffuser with soothing aromas of lavender, chamomile, or sandalwood (or a blend of all of them) 
  • Light a Himalayan salt lamp for a cozy ambiance that is warm and inviting for sleep
  • Try a little noise therapy—tranquil music, white noise, sounds of nature, whatever sounds are calming for you. Don’t we all have a friend that can’t travel without a fan? They have an app for that too. 
  • Cover yourself with a weighted blanket—there’s a reason these are so popular. Studies show that the pressure from the weighted blanket releases serotonin, the hormone that makes us feel happy and cared for.   

4. Take a bath or shower

A simple bubble bath with your favorite aromatherapy scents (I like calming scents, can you tell?) can go a long way in making you feel relaxed. It’s okay to take this time for yourself, so don’t feel guilty. While this may not be feasible to do nightly as your bedtime routine, try to fit it in a couple of times a week to decompress and get some quiet time. 

If you’re not a bath person, try taking your showers at night. The warmth and pressure from the water can effectively set the stage for bed. As a bonus, showering at night frees up a few minutes in your morning routine.

 

5. Express some gratitude

Reflecting on the day for a few moments and thinking of the things you’re grateful for can help you sleep more soundly. Not only does reminding yourself of all the good in your life make you forget the bad but ending the day on a positive note keeps the worrying at bay. 

Keeping a gratitude journal next to your bed is helpful in reminding you to do this. It’s important to focus on the small wins of the day as well as the big things you’re grateful for. While your family’s health is definitely something to be grateful for, little things like having a pizza parlor nearby so you didn’t have to cook are as well. 


6. Meditation

If you’re a highly anxious person, regular meditation may help. It’s not an easy activity because it requires emptying the brain and just being for a few moments. Meditation takes practice—apps like Headspace make it simple to learn to do though. Listening to a calm voice has a sedative effect and can guide you on what to think (or not think). Even a 2 or 3-minute meditation before bed can have positive impacts on your evening routine. 


7. Read a book

For the readers who don’t have time to read—make time for just 10-minutes before bed. Reading reduces stress, making it easier to fall asleep. On a day that was especially trying it might be nice to escape into another world for a little bit, too. 


8. No electronics the last 30 minutes before bed

Put the phone down, close your laptop, turn off the TV. The blue light from these devices stimulates your brain, so shutting them off a half hour before bed may contribute to easier sleeping. This can be difficult, particularly for those who try not to be on their cell phones when their kids are awake but give it a try a few nights a week. You will notice a difference in how much faster you fall asleep.

A routine isn’t meant to cause more stress for you, so don’t try to incorporate all these things into your nightly routine all at once. Start with one and as it becomes a habit, try adding another. Over time, you’ll notice that you have a full-on bedtime routine, are sleeping better, and hopefully getting through your days feeling more in control and intentional.

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